One school will be upgrading its alarm systems, another will use funds to make it harder to look in through the windows.
Several local schools were the recipients of state grants to be used for upgrading their safety features. Gov. Phil Scott announced the awards earlier this week.
All told, $1.4 million was awarded to 69 institutions, a mix of public, private, and independent.
Christ the King School, on South Main Street in Rutland, was awarded $23,967. Principal Lila Millard said in an interview Tuesday the money will be used for a number of things related to the school’s alarm, and public announcement systems. More alarm buttons, that can signal lock down and fire emergencies, will be installed. These will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, giving the alarms both audio and visual components. The speakers in the gym also will be upgraded, as they’re difficult to hear given the room’s acoustics.
Millard said a contractor was lined up ahead of time and the school intends to start this work as soon as possible. She said the money has to be spent by the end of June.
Mount St. Joseph Academy received $19,650 from the program. Principal Michael Alexander said the money will be used for a few things, the most visible being an opaque outer covering on certain windows. He said right now people on the street can see straight into the building. The opaque film will allow people to see outside normally, but makes looking in more difficult. Funds will also be used to upgrade an existing identity card system and to install more security cameras.
Other schools receiving grants included Killington Elementary with $23,025, Killington Mountain School with $24,750, Rutland Area Christian School with $24,750, and Slate Valley Unified Union School District with $82,000.
Doty Memorial School in Worcester also received $14,598.
“We are very pleased to receive the safety grant and plan to utilize the funds for necessary security upgrades such as school wide communication,” said Debra J. Taylor, interim superintendent for the Washington Central Unified Union School District, in an email. “We are beginning process this week and anticipate project completion by spring.”
A full list of awards can be found at http://bit.ly/1217safegrants.
According to Scott’s office, funding for this program was approved by the Legislature. Priority was given to projects involving door locks, both outdoor and interior, as well as public address systems.
“Supporting security improvements in our schools helps ensure all Vermont kids have the safest possible learning environment, and these funds fill gaps left by the first round of grants,” said Scott in a release. “I appreciate the Legislature’s partnership in expanding on our work in this area.”
Since 2018, the state has awarded $5.5 million to 308 schools. Most of it, $4 million, was awarded in 2018.
“Funding security improvements is just one step in our approach to school safety, and it’s a critical one,” said Michael Schirling, Vermont commissioner of public safety, in a release. “Our team is working on not only securing facilities, but educating communities, school administrators, teachers, and students on how to recognize and mitigate threats to students and staff.”